"I am going to meet people today who talk too much -- people who are selfish, egotistical, ungrateful. But I won't be surprised or disturbed, for I couldn't imagine a world without such people."
"We expect anything and everything. We expect the contradictory and the impossible. We expect compact cars which are spacious; luxurious cars which are economical. We expect to be rich and charitable, powerful and merciful, active and reflective, kind and competitive. We expect to be inspired by mediocre appeals for 'excellence,' to be made literate by illiterate appeals for literacy. We expect to eat and stay thin, to be constantly on the move and ever more neighborly, to go to a 'church of our choice' and yet feel its guiding power over us, to revere God and to be God."
"Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you...Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question...Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use."
"...the secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth..."
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages."
"Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men having barbarian souls."
"There are only two ways in which it is possible to get rid of anger, worry, fear, despair, or other undesirable affections. One is that an opposite affection should over-poweringly break over us, and the other is by getting so exhausted with the struggle that we have to stop, -- so we drop down, give up, and don't care any longer."
"Life in the animal world is so easy to understand, so simple -- because the animal has the advantage over men that it is not able to talk. In that realm of existence the only thing that speaks is its life, its actions."
"In this country, unfortunately, as all over the world, we care so little, we have no deep feeling about anything. Most of us are intellectuals -- intellectuals in the superficial sense of being very clever, full of words and theories about what is right and what is wrong, about how we should think, what we should do. Mentally we are highly developed, but inwardly there is very little substance or significance..."
"We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing. It is difficult for modern man not to see the present in terms of the past. The white European and North American, in particular, commonly has a sense not of renewal, but of being at an end: of being only half alive in the fibrillating heartland of a senescent civilization. Sometimes it seems that it is not possible to do more than reflect the decay around and within us, then sing sad and bitter songs of disillusion and defeat."
"The person who lives by the motto, 'I never trust anyone,' or 'friendship is only selfish anyway,' or 'don't fall in love or your heart will be broken,' exhibits the first symptoms of...[a] lack of meaning. Such persons often set up patterns of behavior which serve to drive away eligible sweethearts and thus protect them from the challenge of love and marriage...Such persons for whom the meaning of love has dropped out of life can understand Joseph Wood Krutch's penetrating remark that only when we become accustomed to a loveless universe shall we realize what atheism really means."
"It is obvious that man does not have the power to extricate himself from flux and finiteness, as idealists and mystics of the ancient and the modern world believed. It is equally obvious that history does not solve the basic problems of human existence but reveals them on progressively new levels."
"Wisdom does not guarantee success in achieving life's important goals...just as high probability does not guarantee truth. The world must cooperate, too. A wise person will have gone in the right direction, and, if the world thwarts his journey, he will have known how to respond to that too."
"He who knows nothing loves nothing. He who can do nothing understands nothing. He who understands nothing is worthless. But he who understands also loves, notices, sees...The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love."
"...what is man in Nature? A Nothing in comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between nothing and everything. Since he is infinitely removed from comprehending the extremes, the end of things and their beginning are hopelessly hidden from him in an impenetrable secret; he is equally incapable of seeing the Nothing from which he was made and the Infinite in which he is swallowed up."
"In a well-regulated nation, every man hastens to the assemblies; under a bad government, no one wants to take a step to go to them, because no one feels the least interest in what is done there, since it is predictable that the general will will not be dominant, and, in short, because domestic concerns absorb all the individual's attention. Good laws lead men to make better ones; bad laws lead to worse. As soon as someone says of the business of the state -- 'What does it matter to me?' -- then the state must be reckoned lost."
"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."
"Whenever...anything in nature seems to us ridiculous, absurd, or evil, it is because we have but a partial knowledge of things, and are in the main ignorant of the order and coherence of nature as a whole, and because we want everything to be arranged according to the dictates of our own reason; although, in fact, what our reason pronounces bad is not bad as regards the order and laws of universal nature, but only as regards the laws of our own nature taken separately."
"I felt that the ground on which I stood was crumbling, that there was nothing for me to stand on, that what I had been living for was nothing, that I had no reason for living...The truth was, that life was meaningless. Every day of life, every step in it, brought me, as it were, nearer the precipice, and I saw clearly that before me there was nothing but ruin. And to stop was impossible; to go back was impossible; and it was impossible to shut my eyes so as not to see that there was nothing before me but suffering and actual death, absolute annihilation..."
"Whence do I come and whence comes the world in which and by which I live? Whither do I go and whither goes everything that environs me? What does it all mean? Such are the questions that man asks as soon as he frees himself from the brutalizing necessity of laboring for his material sustenance. And if we look closely, we shall see that beneath these questions lies the wish to know not so much the 'why' as the 'wheretofore,' not the cause but the end."
"The feeling of an unbridgeable gulf between consciousness and brain-process: how does it come about that this does not come into the considerations of our ordinary life?"